COURTESY OF GOOD SHEPHERD POULTRY RANCHHere are five reasons to choose a heritage bird: • They taste better. • The chickens are the epitome of free range; they have to be outside in order to meet standards. • By choosing the heritage breeds, you will be helping to re-introduce the birds into our food system and keep them from going extinct. • They are local. Most of the birds are raised right here in the Midwest. They are actually seen as a hot commodity in New York restaurants. • They make a rich stock, which will actually help you during a cold or flue, at least that’s what my mom says. With anything extraordinary, it takes time to cultivate and nurture for a superior product. These birds are no different. They take longer to prepare and they cook very differently. Never fear! Look at it as revitalizing your grandmother’s recipe. It is nothing that hasn’t been done before; we’ve just forgotten how to do it. Basic Heritage Roasted Chicken Makes 4 servings For the Brine: 1/2 cup salt 1 cup sugar 2 lemons cut in half 1 cup mixed fresh herbs torn (thyme, sage, parsley are great) 5 cloves garlic peeled and crushed 1/4 onion thinly sliced 1 gallon water For cooking 1 heritage chicken 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon pepper 1 lemon cut in half 1/2 cup fresh herbs torn 2 cloves garlic crushed 1/2 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper Mix together all the brine ingredients and add the heritage chicken. Brine for 8 hours. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the chicken from the brine. Sprinkle the inside of the bird with salt and pepper. Stuff the bird with the lemon, herbs and garlic. Tie the legs together. Bring a large shallow pot of water to a boil. Place a strainer or sieve over the boiling pot of water. Place the bird breast side down in the strainer; making sure the boiling water is not touching the bird. It merely needs to steam. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Steam for 3 minutes, flip and steam the other side for 3 minutes. Steaming seals the skin, which will lock in moisture. Carefully remove the bird from the steam pot. Place on a baking pan with a rack breast side up. Place in oven for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. Flip over and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Cover the chicken with foil, turn the oven down to 325 degrees and bake for 60 minutes flipping back to breast side up after 30 minutes. Roast until internal temperature reaches 175 degrees at the hip joint. To make crispy skin, uncover the chicken for the last 5 minutes of roasting. Heritage birds can be purchased at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch and Synergistic Acres. Renee Kelly is the owner of Renee Kelly’s Harvest in Johnson County. Her passion lies in changing the food system, one plate at a time. Her inspiration is Mother nature and the many growers in the Kansas City area.